Dealer Licensing in South Carolina

The South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (SCDMV) issues a variety of motor vehicle dealer licenses. On this page, we’ll look at who’s required to have one and the steps to applying for the correct dealer credentials.

Do You Need a SC Motor Vehicle Dealer License?

You’re required to obtain a motor vehicle dealer license (the most common dealer license) if you’re in the business of selling or attempting to sell more than 5 motor vehicles in 1 calendar year.

With a motor vehicle dealer license, you:

  • Can sell retail or wholesale motor vehicles.
  • Can sell to the general public, other dealers, or wholesalers.
  • Aren’t required to sell a certain number of motor vehicles to keep your license.

Later, we explain how to set up your car dealership and apply for a motor vehicle dealer license; first though, we’ll go outline the other types of SC dealer licenses. 

Other Types of Dealers

The SCDMV also issues the following dealer licenses:

  • Wholesaler:
  • Wholesale auction:
  • Motorcycle dealer:
  • Motorcycle wholesaler:
  • Travel trailer dealer:
  • Temporary travel trailer/camper dealer:

Refer to the SCDMV’s page on dealer licenses for instructions on how to apply for the above license types. 

SC Dealer Pre-Licensing Course 

Generally, if you’re applying for a non-franchise dealer license, you must complete a pre-licensing course BEFORE you can apply for a motor vehicle dealer license. You’ll need to submit a Pre-Licensing Course Certificate with your dealer application packet.

The state-mandated course lasts 8 hours and you can enroll with either of the following approved agencies:

This requirement DOES NOT APPLY to non-franchised dealers who are:

  • Owned and operated by franchised dealers.
  • Primarily in the business of salvaging OR renting vehicles.

Apply for SC Dealer License

To apply for a South Carolina motor vehicle dealer license, you need to submit:

Mail everything to:

Dealer Licensing and Audit Unit
P.O. Box 1498
Blythewood, SC 29016

Once your application is approved, the SCDMV will contact you for a dealership inspection, after which you’ll owe the necessary licensing fees if you pass. 

If you need help or have questions about applying for a SC motor vehicle dealer license, call the DMV’s dealer licensing number at (803) 896-2611.

Establish Your SC Dealership

At your dealership inspection, a South Carolina DMV representative will check to ensure your business has a/an:

  • Permanent enclosed building (i.e. not a residence, tent, or other temporary structure) occupied by YOU (the dealer).
    • There are tight restrictions on buildings with multiple businesses—if you want to do business in a shared building, call the SCDMV’s dealer licensing number at (803) 896-2611 for a pre-inspection.
    • Public must be able to easily access the building and contact you at reasonable business hours.
  • Office area that’s at least 96 square feet.
  • Safe space to keep and store records, files, books, and other business materials
  • Display lot that’s adequate for showing cars for sale.
  • Permanent business sign that displays your car dealership name in letters at least 6 inches tall and is visible from the nearest roadway.

Once everything’s approved, you’ll need to pay the SCDMV the following fees to receive your dealer license:

  • Dealer license: $50.
  • Dealer plates: $20 each.

Your car dealer license is valid for 12 months and you must prominently display it upon receiving it

Renewing Your SC Dealer License

To renew your motor vehicle dealer license, bring the following in person to an SCDMV office:

Additionally, if you purchased a new surety bond you must mail the original bond AND Power of Attorney to: 

Dealer License and Audit Unit
P.O. Box 1498
Blythewood, SC 29016

AND a SCDMV agent will inspect your dealership if:

  • Your license has been expired for more than 90 days.
  • You went from being a dealer to a wholesaler, or a wholesaler to a dealer.
  • There’s be a name and/or address change.
  • There’s been an ownership and/or location change.

*NOTE: The SCDMV will accept SLED Catch Reports through January 31, 2018. After that, you must submit a S2Verify Instant National Criminal Search for each member who owns 10% or more of the business. The background checks CANNOT be over 90 days old

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